The long-envisioned plan to provide Sasquatch Mountain Resort (SMR) with a massive expansion has reached a major approval milestone.
The Fraser Valley Regional District has green-lighted the official community plan for the Hemlock Valley, which will guide the five-phased expansion into an all-season destination resort.
It is located on the west side of Harrison Lake, just northwest of Harrison Hot Springs.
Local hospitality firm Berezan Group acquired the resort in 2006 and began planning for the expansion in 2008. The master plan was approved by the provincial government in 2016.
The area will be transformed into “a unique cutting-edge, four-season mountain resort, catering to local, regional and destination guests in a dynamic fashion, offering an easily accessible refuge and escape from the city.” This is expected to be a $2.5 billion investment.
Wintertime activities entail downhill skiing and snowboarding, as well as cross-country skiing, ski touring, and tubing, while summertime activities include hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, ziplining, golfing, and boating.
Sasquatch Mountain Resort, previously known as Hemlock Resort up until 2017, will exponentially grow its controlled recreation area from 855 acres to 15,746 acres.
“The approved controlled recreation area expansion and the agreement with the Province will see the resort expand out of the existing footprint in all directions into surrounding valleys and to the east down to Harrison Lake foreshore,” reads the master plan.
The skiable terrain would reach over 2,700 acres with 283 runs supported by 23 lifts — up from the current size of 363 acres with 35 runs and four lifts.
This would expand the carrying capacity of the ski facilities from the existing capacity of about 1,150 skiers/boarders per day to 13,400 skiers/boarders per day.
Existing condition of Sasquatch Mountain Resort:
Future condition of Sasquatch Mountain Resort:
Upon full buildout, Sasquatch Mountain Resort would be in a comparable sphere to Whistler Blackcomb, which has over 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, 200 runs, and a capacity for 18,000 skiers/boarders per day.
Like Whistler Blackcomb, SMR will also have a significantly sized mixed-use village component within multiple and expanded base areas, and on various other sites approved for building development. This even includes a lakeshore village, linked to the rest of the resort by a lift near the lakefront.
The resort master plan at full buildout calls for 280,000 sq ft of restaurant, retail, and commercial service spaces and 19,969 beds, with 40% available to the public for nightly rental, 45% privately held and used, and 15% dedicated for employee housing. This is an increase from the existing 16,200 sq ft of commercial space and 1,072 beds, contained within 262 resort residential units in a single base lodge with limited amenities and facilities.
“As defined in the Master Plan, phased implementation of the expansion plan includes the infill of the existing base area and six new base area developments, designed to be in balance with the recreational capacities recognizing environmental and other limits to growth. Each phase is designed as a finished, well-balanced project to stand on its own and not dependent upon subsequent phases,” reads the master plan.
“Proposed built space features to meet the needs and expectations of the resort’s visitors include restaurants, bars, commercial and retail outlets, rental and repair shops, guest services, ski school, patrol and first aid, day care, lockers, resort administration and employee facilities, and future additional visitor-oriented built space broadened to provide for guests staying for extended visits include a greater variety of restaurants, retail outlets, convention, seminar and retreat facilities, theatre, spas, and recreation facilities.”
Each development phase will require various further approvals and must meet conditions from several government entities. The full buildout of the resort is anticipated to take decades.
New and improved road connections will be developed by the resort and the provincial government.
Berezan Group is working with the Sts’ailes First Nation on partnerships and economic opportunities for its members. Both the developer and the First Nation are working towards a joint venture agreement for the development in the Hemlock North neighbourhood of the master plan.
The area’s earliest ski recreation history dates back to the 1950s, when loggers in the area created the first rudimentary ski tours. Public skiing was established in 1969, when the facilities were opened as Hemlock Valley Recreation — initially consisting of a single rope-tow lift and an old school bus equipped with a wood-burning stove that served as the ski lodge.
Last year, another entity submitted an application to the provincial government’s Mountain Resorts Branch to build Bridal Veil Mountain Resort — a major all-season resort on 11,500 acres of mountain terrain immediately southwest of Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley. The resort would be able to handle about 11,000 skiers/snowboarders at a time.
Bridal Veil Mountain Resort would have a significant residential, accommodations, and commercial hub at its Valley Base Village, near the Trans-Canada Highway. Two arterial gondola lines would link the Valley Base Village to two alpine village areas and year-round recreational activities. The specific details of the project are still being planned, given that the proposal is in an early stage.
Just northeast of Squamish, Aquilini Investment Group and Northland Properties Corporation have been planning the Garibaldi at Squamish all-season resort for years. The Whistler Blackcomb-sized resort would include 1,635 acres of skiable terrain on 131 trails and 21 lifts capable of hosting 15,250 skiers/snowboarders.
In addition to winter and summer recreational activities, Garibaldi at Squamish would see 22,000 beds, including 1,300 hotel rooms, 2,200 condominium homes, 840 townhomes, and about 1,200 single-family homes. Several village clusters are planned, including a 62-acre, pedestrian-oriented main village at an elevation of 1,100 metres — the same elevation as the top of the Grouse Mountain Skyride — with hotels and 250,000 sq ft of retail, restaurants, and amenities.